How To Clean A Bong, Bowl or Bubbler! Pro Tips and More!

August 29, 2023

The fastest and most common method, though not the most effective, to clean your glass pipe is by scraping out the sticky residue using a pointed object like a paperclip. However, if you use this method regularly, you'll eventually reach a point where the residue buildup makes scraping ineffective.

While scraping is useful for a quick clean before smoking, it's not the most efficient way to maintain your glass pipe. As time goes on, you might find yourself needing to buy a new glass pipe, switching to a vaporizer (which also requires regular upkeep), or performing a more thorough cleaning to restore your pipe to its original condition.

The good news is that we're here to help! We have some quick tips to keep your cherished glass pipe clean. If you smoke on a daily basis, it's a good idea to follow these steps at least once a month.

how to clean a bong with rubbing alcohol

First of all, it's important to regularly change the water in your bong to avoid having to go through the hassle of deep cleaning it. It's a good idea to empty out the water after each time you use the bong, unless you plan on using it again soon.

Here's a simple way to clean your bong:

  • Gather Your Supplies: You'll need table salt, rubbing alcohol (preferably 90% isopropyl), a container, and some corks or rubber stoppers that fit your bong's openings.

  • Salt and Alcohol Mixture: Pour about 1 cup of salt and 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol into your bong. The salt might seem like a lot, but don't worry, you won't be eating it. The salt helps scrub off the residue, and using more of it is better. The rubbing alcohol dissolves the gunk.

  • Shake It Up: Close the openings of your bong and shake it vigorously. This helps the mixture scrub away the dirt and residue. Don't shake too hard though, you don't want to accidentally drop and break your bong.



  • Rinse with Water: After shaking, make sure to rinse your bong thoroughly with water to get rid of any remaining alcohol.

  • Plug Openings: You can use wine corks that fit perfectly in 14mm bongs, or you can buy cone-shaped rubber wine stoppers. These help seal the openings during cleaning. Be cautious while pushing them in to avoid cracking your bong. Alternatively, you can use folded paper towels.

  • Repeat the Cleaning: Dump a decent amount of isopropyl alcohol and salt into the bong. Seal all openings and shake it again for a few minutes. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. Repeat this process 3 to 4 times.

  • Careful Handling: Be careful while cleaning. You don't want the bong slipping out of your hands and breaking.

  • Cleaning the Down Stem and Bowl Piece: For these smaller parts, put them in a ziplock bag and follow the same steps used for cleaning the main part of the bong.

  • Add Lemon Juice: You can also add a bit of lemon juice to the mixture. However, make sure to clean the bong thoroughly afterward. Lemon juice can develop mold quickly, so don't leave it in for multiple days, or it will start to smell bad.

  • Final Rinse: Give the bong a final rinse with hot water from the sink. Just be sure to let it cool down a bit before adding new water to avoid any risk of cracking due to sudden temperature changes.

  • Dry and Repeat: Allow the bong to dry completely, and you might want to wash it a few more times to ensure it's clean and ready to use again.

    Now... How to clean a glass pipe with isopropyl alcohol

    1. Give it a quick scrape. To begin, take off any resin that's stuck to your glass pipe. Flip the pipe upside down and tap it gently to remove any leftover bits. For hard-to-reach spots, use a thin tool like a needle or a paper clip to remove small or large pieces of resin. Don't scrub too vigorously, especially if you encounter tough spots, and avoid scratching the glass. Any minor scratches will be addressed in the next step.

    Here's something to think about: If you keep the resin you've just removed, you can potentially smoke it later. However, the quality of the high might not be as good.

    2. Fill a clean Ziploc bag with rubbing alcohol (don't put the pipe in the bag yet): The container should be spacious enough for your pipe to fit comfortably, leaving some extra space for the liquid to move. Fill about half of the container with rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol).

    Choosing a higher concentration of isopropyl alcohol (90%) is recommended because it will effectively and swiftly remove the residue stuck on the glass pipe compared to the weaker 70% solution. Additionally, when using 90% isopropyl, the salt (which we'll add later) won't dissolve as rapidly as it would in 70% isopropyl alcohol.

    3. Add Salt: Before placing the glass pipe into the Ziploc bag, include one tablespoon of salt in the mixture. The salt particles will function like a gentle abrasive, reaching and cleaning areas that are difficult to access with a sponge or brush. You don't need to get special salt for this; regular table salt works perfectly well. Nevertheless, larger salt grains, like Kosher salt or sea salt, are even more effective in this process.

    Important note: While this might be obvious, it's important to mention: once you combine the salt and alcohol mixture, the resin won't be suitable for smoking anymore. Most likely, you've already taken out the larger pieces during the earlier step and set them aside.

    4. Put the glass pipe in Ziploc and shake gently. Submerge the pipe completely and remember to shake it gently. Keep in mind that this pipe holds significance for you, and you wouldn't want to shake it vigorously like a Shake-N-Bake bag. Ensure that some salt enters the bowl.

    Seal the openings of the pipe with your fingers and shake it again. The salt will help scrub away and eliminate most of the residue clinging to the pipe. Shaking for around 1-2 minutes should suffice.

    5. WAIT AND LET IT SIT!! Hold off on removing the pipe for now. Let it stay in the mixture for a few hours, allowing the alcohol to break down tar and resin, which will result in a cleaner pipe. Personally, I often leave it in the bag overnight, but if you're eager to smoke with friends sooner, a few hours will work too. This timing is based on what you prefer, but letting the pipe sit for a while will lead to a cleaner outcome.

    6. Give it another shake before you take it out. Repeat the same procedure as before: seal the openings of the glass pipe using your fingers, ensure there's salt inside, and shake it. This is to ensure that you remove any remaining residue. If you can't see any salt, add more, as it might have dissolved while the pipe was resting.

    Note: If your glass pipe is exceptionally dirty, you can redo the process using new isopropyl alcohol and fresh salt. Shake it, let it sit for a few more hours, and repeat this until you can see that it's visibly clean.

    7. Wash out your clean glass pipe with hot water, lots of hot water. Allow the pipe to dry completely, and then wash it a few more times.

    IMPORTANT: Do NOT pour the remaining alcohol from the Ziploc bag into the sink! It can cause issues with your sink's drainage. A helpful comment from Rick below reminds us that pouring alcohol, whether it's clean or dirty, down the drain or toilet is a bad idea. It becomes part of a harmful solution that is processed and ends up in tap water. Instead, dispose of it outside or use it as a spray to keep insects away from your plants, lawn, and garden.

    Keep in mind, saving then smoking the resin dissolved with iso is dangerous, as you do NOT want to be smoking rubbing alcohol. Also the salt wouldn't evaporate, so you'd end up smoking a salt/resin mixture that may contain pockets of iso. (Many thanks to The Titanium Human for the heads up). 

    8. Final step. Submerge the glass pipe in a blend of warm water and lemon juice for 15-20 minutes. This will aid in eliminating water marks and any stains that aren't from resin. Additionally, it will impart a fresh scent and flavor to the pipe. 

      Voila, you have a nice new looking clean glass pipe! Enjoy it like the day you first brought it home!

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